Users will be offered offline access to docs.google.com over the coming weeks allowing them to work on documents when web access is unavailable.
On reconnecting to the internet any changes will be automatically synchronised, the company said in a statement.
Offline editing is part of the Google Gears initiative introduced 15 months ago to allow application developers to build offline features into their own programs.
Google Gears already works within the Google Reader news feed reader and third party applications such as RememberTheMilk.com.
Some industry watchers see the announcement as clearing a major hurdle ahead of a direct assault on Microsoft Office, but the inability to create new documents may persuade serious users to adopt a wait and see approach before switching sides.
"This is still early days. Google is working to make more web applications and functions work where connections are unavailable," said a spokesperson for the company.
Google claimed that the move is intended to give users "a taste of the future " and that next steps include the ability to edit spreadsheets and presentations.
This latest enhancement to Google's free suite of tools comes just as OpenOffice.org released the latest version of its free open source office suite.
Google gears up for offline word processing
By Guy Dixon on Apr 2, 2008 7:42AM